Stories Beyond the Mist

A Collection of Foggy Day Rambles

The Last Remnants – Ice House and Cemetery

This stone structure was the last remnant of the settlement on Palatine Hill. It had been attached to a wooden building which would have originally been slave quarters. The building was located about 4 meters from the original mill race and used to store ice cut during the winter months. One of the first inhabitants would likely have been Robert Jupiter. Robert Jupiter had been enslaved by Daniel Servos and was promised his freedom after fighting with Butlers Rangers. He was believed to be a free man by the time Daniel Servos passed away in 1804 .The building was later known as the “Kirby” cottage, the house where William Kirby and his wife Eliza took up residence after their marriage. Eliza was the daughter of John Whitmore, Daniel’s adopted son and Maggie Servos, Daniel’s daughter.

The above photo was taken during a drought and prolonged heat wave in May 2004. I was walking the dog along the forest edge when thunder erupted and the skies opened briefly offering sweet relief. The sun broke out and mist drifted over the freshly ploughed furrows.

The Servos family cemetery lies at the intersection of a few farms tucked away in a hidden corner of Niagara. Once surrounded by forest and tender fruit trees it overlooks a gently sloped landscape and a spring fed pond. It’s one of the most scenic spots in spring with its peach blossoms carpeting the hillside. In June the fragrance of the honey locust and adjacent rose fields mingle, an exotic fragrance like no other!

Some unusual mound formations existed about 12 meters north of the cemetery until the 1940’s. Unfortunately they were not protected as a heritage site and were bulldozed as the orchards expanded. According to Roger Himes whose family was the last to live in the “Kirby cottage” on Palatine Hill, the mounds were about 12 meters in length and about 5 meters high.

They would have looked similar to the mounds created by the Attawandaran people located across the Niagara River in Lewiston, New York. They were also know as the flint workers. The abundance of high quality chert on the southern shores of the Niagara Peninsula guaranteed an ample supply of ammunition. The neighbouring Iroquois and Hurons were deadly enemies however the two warring tribes had to adhere to peaceful ways when in Attawarandara territory. Some researchers believe that the presence of a Peace Queen within the Attawandarons helped to maintain their neutrality between the two enemies.

There are 36 people interred within the cemetery walls, primarily descendents of the Servos and Hahn families. Outside the walls to the west are buried twelve Iroquois warriors who died in the battle taking Queenston Heights in October, 1813.

This is also the final resting place of Robert Jupiter. He had been enslaved by Daniel Servos who promised him his freedom if he served with Butlers Rangers. He fought for the loyalist forces for the entire duration of the American Revolution. It is believed he was a free man at the time of Daniel’s death in 1803. He also enlisted with the Coloured Corps during the War of 1812, fighting at the Battle of Queenstown Heights and later at Stoney Creek.